Planting For Fall and Winter

The seedlings I started a few weeks ago have been growing in the greenhouse, and it’s now time to start getting them planted in the greenhouse and cold frame beds. I’ve got lettuce, spinach, arugula, cilantro, mizspoona and a bit of kale ready to go. These plants will hopefully give us greens to eat during the fall and winter months.

lettuce seedlings in plug flat

lettuce seedlings in plug flat

Before I start planting I have to get the beds ready. Today I ripped out the basil plants from cold frame bed #1. They got zapped by the recent freeze, so it was off to the compost bins for them. I added a bucket of compost and some all purpose fertilizer and forked it into the soil. That’s going to be home to lettuce this time around. I have four cold frame beds, and I try to rotate things around so I’m not growing the same veggie (or family) there every year.

cold frame beds

cold frame beds

Right next the spot I prepared, I have arugula (Speedy and Apollo) growing in cold frame bed #2. It was planted back in summer and it’s getting a little spindly now, but it’s still edible. We had some on pizza the other day and it was tasty. I’ll cut it and bring it in before I do the bed prep there. That bed is going to get mixed greens, including kale, mizspoona and a new green I am anxious to try called Highland Kale. It’s really not a kale, or a mustard, but a variety of Brassica carinata I got from Artisan Seeds. It’s supposed to be cold-hardy and grow throughout the winter, with a taste reminiscent of lacinato kale. I started those seeds later than the rest, and they need another couple of weeks before I plant them.

spinach seedlings

spinach seedlings

The spinach is ready to go now, but I still need to work up the beds for it in the greenhouse and in cold frame bed #3. I have had good luck the last few years with starting spinach in flats and then setting it out for overwintering. I get great germination that way, much better than when I direct seed this time of year when temps are typically too warm.  I haven’t direct seeded spinach in several years now, come to think of it. I also wind up buying less seeds that way, since the germination rate is high. I’ll thin to one seedling per cell before I set the plants out.

greenhouse with container plants

greenhouse with container plants

I moved several containers of plants in the greenhouse to protect them from the frost, including five peppers plus a lemon verbena and a lemongrass plant I dug up from behind the greenhouse. After the cold snap last week, it turned warm again with no forecasts of frost or freezing weather. So it’s a shuffling act for me this time of year as plants go in and out of the greenhouse. Eventually the container peppers will wind up in the basement under grow lights, but for now they are basking in the sunlight.

With rain forecast this coming weekend, I hope to finish up as much outside work as I can in the next two days. I can work in the greenhouse any time, even if it is raining!

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10 Responses to Planting For Fall and Winter

  1. Phuong says:

    Your spinach and lettuce seedlings looks great, and that is a nice big clump of lemon grass you’re saving. I can only imagine a greenhouse full of winter lettuce, so wonderful.

    The frost just missed us, my Asian basil is still alive and kicking. I planted a couple dozen lettuce seedlings but decided to try out Granny’s seed mat method on a 25 foot bed.

    • Dave says:

      It is nice to have the greens pretty much all winter long. And Granny’s influence lives on with many of us! I think of her every time I use my digging fork, thanks to her “Show Us Your Forks” campaign.

  2. Margaret says:

    What a fantastic setup you have – looks like you will be all set for greens this winter! I’ll be interested to see what you think of the Highland kale. I may be able to not necessarily grow/harvest over the winter as I don’t have a cold frame (yet!) and our winters are much colder than yours, but perhaps I can overwinter it & get an early spring harvest.

    • Dave says:

      I hope to find room for the Highland Kale in both a cold frame bed and in the greenhouse so I can get a good test on just how hardy it is.

  3. Michelle says:

    All those seedlings look great. It will be interesing to see how the Highland Kale does in your winter. I had forgotten that I have seeds for it as well. My attempts at getting fall/winter green going have been poor this year. All my spinach got munched by sowbugs while I was away, the lettuce bolted, and I still haven’t gotten around to setting out my chard and kale starts. The Golden Cornsalad is starting to volunteer around the garden so perhaps I’ll get some of that, but I’m going to scatter more seed around just to be sure.

  4. Echo Wu says:

    Hi Dave,

    I am very glad to see you picking up Harvest Monday responsibility. Thank you!

    We had a hard freeze this past weekend in Hudson Valley as well. All of the heating loving vegetables were wiped out by the frost but lettuces, spinach and Asian greens are still standing tall.

    When you remove vegetables / clean up your garden, do you remove roots as well? I am wondering whether I should leave the roots in bed to decompose and feed the soil.

    Thank you and have a lovely evening!

    • Dave says:

      Hi Echo,

      I hope your fall veggies keep on growing for a while longer! It’s amazing to me how much cold many of the plants can take. As for your question, if I’m not going to replant right away I generally leave the roots in the soil. They not only feed the soil, but as they decompose they help with aeration and drainage.

  5. Mark Willis says:

    Sounds like your weather has been a bit of everything. We still haven’t had a frost, so many plants that would normally have disappeared by this time are still going. I wish I could grow spinach as successfully as you. I love the stuff, but whenever I try growing it it always bolts before I get any significant crop. I have tried over-Wintered lettuce a couple of times, under cloches, but it didn’t so particularly well. I think the light levels are just too low. I’ll stick to brassicas instead!

    • Dave says:

      I’ve struggled growing spinach for years. I think I’ve finally figured out it is easiest here when over-wintered and protected by the greenhouse or a coldframe. The spring planted spinach always bolts quickly for me.

  6. Sue Garrett says:

    We have sowed and planted up some bags of salad greens in the greenhouse too. We haven’t bothered in the past as we haven’t had very much room left in the greenhouse once all the overwintering plants have been put in there. So it will be interesting to see how they go.

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